Unsung Craig is Hornets hero
ABRILLIANT goal by Craig Cathcart sent Watford a point clear at the top of the Championship – and his manager Slavisa Jokanovic believes he is as important as any of his array of potent attackers.
Birmingham made Watford work hard for the three points but the game was eventually decided by a finish from Cathcart that most centre-backs only dream of.
The lead was rarely troubled by the Blues but this did nothing to soothe the nerves of Hornets fans as promotion to the Premier League is in sight.
And they were to have the best news of all after the final whistle when they heard of Chris Maguire’s late penalty at Bournemouth that put their side above the Cherries in the table.
Jokanovic said: “The supporters normally prefer other kinds of players, but Craig is an important part of our team and an example of how to be a professional footballer.
“The players have confidence with him in the field and it is a pleasure to watch him.
“Just because he is a defender doesn’t mean he doesn’t play a big part on the field.
“This competition is very tough and complicated and we found it difficult to win the game, but I must be very happy with our performance.
“We made many changes in the second half and after we scored the goal we had more control and my team interpreted very well how we had to finish the game. I believe that we deserved the three points and, like always, we keep going.”
Watford twice came close to opening the scoring after 20 minutes when a brilliant crossfield pass by Ben Watson found Troy Deeney, who found his route to goal blocked by Darren Randolph.
The rebound came out to Matej Vydra but he shot against the bar and the same man was to quickly slide another chance wide after Deeney played him in.
City keeper Randolph then bravely came out at Deeney’s feet to make a good block as the first half finished goalless.
The Blues created the first opening after the break when Clayton Donaldson got in behind Gabriele Angella before his effort from a narrow angle was pushed out by Heurelho Gomes.
The hosts survived this scare and broke the deadlock after 56 minutes when a cross from Ikechi Anya – just on as a sub – was brilliantly hooked in, despite the ball being behind him, by Cathcart.
Angella then had a header from Almen Abdi’s corner cleared off the line by Stephen Gleeson as Watford looked to make the result safe but Vicarage Road roared on the final whistle.
But Birmingham boss Gary Rowett was proud of how his side had stifled their hosts and made it a nervous afternoon for them.
He said: “We don’t feel at the minute that we can play as expansive as we would like – we can be at home because our home form is excellent.
“But away from home we did it for 35 minutes against Bournemouth where we caused them a lot of problems, and we couldn’t quite reach those heights here.
“But it was a more consistent performance and we made it difficult for Watford. We hung on in, we were resilient, we kept going and just as it looked as though we making the crowd a little bit nervous we conceded a very poor goal from a corner.”
NO LOOKING, NO WORRIES: Craig Cathcart scores the winner for Watford
his goal CHEER: Cathcart celebrates